HC Deb 10 January 2000 vol 342 c1W
Mr. Hilary Benn

To ask the Solicitor-General if he will issue guidance to the Crown Prosecution Service on improving communications with the victims of stalking; and if he will make a statement. [104040]

The Solicitor-General

The Victim's Charter commits the police to keep all victims informed of developments in the case regardless of the nature of the offence. Currently, the CPS provides to the police information about prosecution decisions for them to forward to victims, or their families, as appropriate.

The CPS has a specific role in stalking cases to assist victims when the court has made a restraining order under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, and when subsequently there is a need to seek a variation of the order. The victim is informed of any application to vary the restraining order and asked to express views and, if necessary, to attend. Again, however, the guiding principle is that the CPS communicates with the victim through the police.

The Home Office will shortly be issuing national 'good practice' guidelines to the police and other agencies resulting from the final evaluation of the "One Stop Shop" initiative, which was established to see how the Victim's Charter commitment to keep victims informed might best be met.

Following recommendations in Sir Iain Glidewell's report into the CPS and Sir William Macpherson's report into the death of Stephen Lawrence, the CPS is committed to adopting a more proactive role in communicating with victims. The Service is currently piloting arrangements for taking on responsibility to communicate direct with victims rather than via the police. The pilots will be evaluated before an implementation plan is devised.